London, Ont. officials urge safe celebrations this St. Patrick’s Day

FILE PHOTO - St. Patrick's Day headwear. The Canadian Press file

Local party-goers are being urged to celebrate safely this Friday for St. Patrick’s Day.

Londoners young and old are expected to flock to the city’s pubs and restaurants to ring in the day, considered to be among the busiest for the city’s bar scene.

London police say they will be out in full force for their #DontInviteUs2UrParty campaign, while officials with London Health Sciences Centre are asking people to plan ahead and pace themselves, so they don’t wind up in one of the city’s emergency departments.

Reaction time, coordination, and the ability to make smart and safe decisions can be impaired by alcohol and drugs. St. Paddy’s is often tied with alcohol, which can increase the chances and severity of injuries, Jennifer Britton, injury prevention specialist at LHSC, said in a statement.

“It is important to pace yourself and take an extra second to consider the potential consequences associated with an activity or situation to reduce your chances of ending up in the emergency department this year,” Britton said.

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In addition, revellers should exercise caution if walking home at night, ensuring that they use sidewalks, avoid jaywalking and railway tracks, and wear easily visible clothing. Those out with friends shouldn’t assume that anyone left behind will make it home safely.

In a statement, London police said officers would be maintaining a visible presence in areas across the city, enforcing laws related to open liquor, underage drinking, city by-law offences, and other matters.

“Our approach will be strict but fair, with officers ticketing or charging in relation to City By-Laws, Liquor License Act offences, Highway Traffic Act offences and Criminal Code of Canada offences,” the statement said.

The city’s director of emergency management and security services, Paul Ladouceur, said in a statement that the city would be working with multiple enforcement agencies and emergency services, among them police, fire, paramedics, local hospitals and the health unit, as well as Western University and Fanshawe College “to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community.”

“There will be a visible increase in enforcement throughout the day and night on Friday, March 17. We encourage those celebrating to do so responsibly,” he said.

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Last year, thousands of Londoners hit the downtown core to mark the first St. Patrick’s Day with most COVID-19 restrictions lifted.

Although police and other emergency crews were kept busy throughout the day, no major incidents were reported.

Police later said they responded to at least 33 complaints for noise, parties or gatherings and handed out 145 charges for liquor offences.

At least five charges were issued for noise and two for public urination. In addition, four weapons-related investigations were opened and three impaired driving charges were laid.

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